The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Number: M387
Volume: .20 cubic ft.
William G. “Bud” Gray was born on December 27, 1914 in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, a small farming community south of Starkville. Gray’s father was a dairy farmer and a respected local politician who served as town supervisor of Beat Five for some forty years. Gray was captain of the 1938 football team at Mississippi State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in social studies and physical education.
In 1940, Gray found work with the Mississippi Highway Patrol; he would serve that agency for more than twenty years. Eight years later Gray became the first inspector of the 7th Highway Patrol district, headquartered in Hattiesburg. During the 1962 crisis over James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi, Gray was a ranking officer among patrolmen and was pictured alongside a defiant Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson on the front pages of several national newspapers.
From 1964 to 1968 Gray was sheriff of Forrest County, Mississippi; racial tensions stemming from civil rights activism complicated his work. Gray was largely amenable to the needs and demands of local blacks and civil rights workers, a fact that angered some white natives. The January 1964 Freedom Day, Hattiesburg’s Freedom Summer, and the January 1966 murder of local civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer all took place during Gray’s tenure as sheriff.
This collection consists primarily of materials related to Gray’s law enforcement career in Mississippi.
Folder 1 contains four letters, personal correspondence mostly related to Gray’s 1962 newspaper appearance with Paul B. Johnson. (September 1962 - May 1967)
Folder 2 contains newspaper clippings, including many from papers carrying the widely distributed wire photo with Paul B. Johnson at the University of Mississippi. (September 1962 – December 1983)
Folder 3 consists of materials related to an unsuccessful lawsuit brought against Gray by Deavours Nix of Laurel, Mississippi. Nix was prominent among the group of Jones County Klansmen responsible for the 1966 murder of Hattiesburg civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer. Includes letters and an official copy of the judge’s decision. (April 1966 – July 1967)
Folder 4 contains five photographs. (1962-1998)
Folder 5 contains various anti-black propaganda materials. Includes two flyers and two undated reprints of Depression-era communist tracts aimed at the black community. (ca. 1960s)
Folder 6 contains a brief, undated resume (current to 1971).
Gray, William G. “Bud.” “An Oral History with William G. “Bud” Gray.”
“Directed Verdict Given Defendants.” Hattiesburg American, 3 May 1967.
“Bowers’Arson Trial is Set for May 14.” Hattiesburg American, 6 May 1968.
“Bowers Jury Should Begin Deliberations Today.” Hattiesburg American, 21 August